If you’ve breezed through the children’s book section at your local bookstore lately, you’ll undoubtedly notice an uptick in the amount of picture books. There are so many to choose from and covering every possible genre for the discerning child. I’m not ashamed to say I’m an adult-child who browses this section on a regular basis and am always on the lookout for eye-catching illustrations and a fun story. One book I’m particularly excited about is Monsters Under Bridges, which hits shelves this week.
Written by Rachel Roellke Coddington with illustrations by Jolby, this is one part picture book, one part “guidebook” covering the roadways and bridges of the Pacific Northwest. What makes it so interesting and educational for both adults and children is the way each bridge is illustrated by a corresponding monster which “lives” within, on, or around the structure. You meet creatures like Sherman, denizen of the North Arm Bridge in British Columbia, who eats astronaut meats and milkshakes and smells like a combination of cardboard and cinnamon. (His favorite house is Gryffindor, just in case you were curious.) He lives beneath the bridge because it’s for Sky Trains only, and he often straps himself to the front of trains to practice high speed flight for a possible return back to his alien planet.
Monsters Under Bridges gives so much insight into the many beautiful bridges dotting this part of the country, including the architecture and history, while also tickling the imagination. Personally, I can’t wait to keep my eye out for Louis, a long, birdlike creature who lives on Portland’s St. John’s Bridge. The bridge was designed to look like a European Gothic cathedral, so naturally, Louis—a frequent traveler to those distant cultured lands—feels at home there. If you look closely when crossing the bridge, you might see him sitting atop it either writing in his journal, strumming a guitar, or eating donuts. Seriously, learning about bridges has never been this fun.